250664 Harnessing the Power of Online Networking to Reverse the Epidemic of Childhood Obesity

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 11:30 AM

Martin Kearns, Executive Director, Netcentric Campaigns , Netcentric Campaigns, PreventObesity.Net, Washington, DC
Childhood obesity is a problem of epidemic proportions in the United States, with rates more than doubling in the last thirty years. Online networks provide a platform for professionals to organize and address this multi-faceted issue. PreventObesity.net was started by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation to create a network of professionals who are collectively working to create environments and policies that support healthy eating and active living. PreventObesity.net strives to connect leaders and advocates in academia and healthcare, community organizers and community members in order to leverage their combined influence and drive community change. Through a series of online networking tools, the site seeks to create a more effective movement for change and make it easier for all advocates to know and capitalize on current activities, strategies, successes and lessons learned. This presentation will discuss case studies of how virtual community members have used site tools to mobilize change. Highlights will include a review of the Blogger Outreach tool, which helps users isolate and rank which blogs are most influential and active in the topics of interest. Such tools help organizations target online advertising and effectively engage online audiences in the movement. Cell phone tools are a new way to reach and connect leaders around common interest and geography. This ubiquitous technology is a new way online platforms can mobilize and integrate their virtual community into the lives of members. Last, the discussion will show how community members can customize and create smaller communities around their interests using “widgets”.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain how national online communities can be used to link leaders, organizations and individuals to further environmental and policy change at the community level. 2. Identify unique tools available to online communities that can help public health campaigns penetrate online discussions on their issue, and reach target audiences more effectively. 3. Discuss the importance of linking online communities in creating smarter advocacy efforts and mobilizing for social change.

Keywords: Obesity, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Co-Director of PreventObesity.net. I can explain why the project was launched, progress to date, and summarize the lessons learned.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.